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Predicting Seattle's 2021 Opening Day roster

November 6, 2020

SEATTLE -- General manager Jerry Dipoto has some work to do this offseason before gathering the Mariners for the start of Spring Training in Arizona in February, but next year’s club appears largely in place already with a strong nucleus of youngsters returning. • Offseason checklist: Mariners' needs and moves

SEATTLE -- General manager Jerry Dipoto has some work to do this offseason before gathering the Mariners for the start of Spring Training in Arizona in February, but next year’s club appears largely in place already with a strong nucleus of youngsters returning.

Offseason checklist: Mariners' needs and moves

So while some things no doubt will change and additions definitely will be made in the next three months, here’s a very early projection of the 26-man roster that Seattle will take the field with on Opening Day of the 2021 season:

Catcher (2): Tom Murphy and Luis Torrens
Murphy missed all of last season with a broken bone in his left foot, but he will be eager to resume his starting role and build on his breakout 2019 campaign. Torrens figures to split duties behind the plate as the 24-year-old impressed in his one-month trial after being acquired from the Padres at the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline, giving the Mariners some quality depth and the ability to allow top catching prospect Cal Raleigh to continue developing at Triple-A Tacoma initially.

First base (1): Evan White
White became the first MLB rookie first baseman to win a Gold Glove Award and now will look to add some offensive consistency to his game. While White will undoubtedly get the bulk of the playing time, José Marmolejos and Ty France are also capable of filling in if needed.

Second base (1): Dylan Moore
Moore made a big impression in 2020 and the Mariners have talked about giving the versatile 28-year-old a chance to settle into the primary role at second base, but this is a position that should be written in pencil for now. Shed Long Jr. will see if he can bounce back from a tough 2020 and a right shin stress fracture. But if Dipoto decides to dip into a depressed free-agent market, this seems like one spot where he could add an intriguing position player to the mix and keep Moore as a super-utility man. Two-time National League Gold Glove Award winner Kolten Wong is a surprising free agent after the Cardinals declined to pick up his $12.5 million option, and the 30-year-old would further bolster Seattle’s strong defensive infield as well as supply a needed lefty bat to a right-handed-heavy lineup, should the Mariners jump aggressively into his market.

Third base (1): Kyle Seager
The Mariners have been writing Seager’s name into the lineup for 10 straight seasons and will do so again, barring a trade. The 33-year-old is coming off another solid season and is the only player still remaining from the club Dipoto took over in September 2015. Seager is the highest paid Mariner at $18 million for 2021, with a $15 million team option for ’22 that becomes a player option if he’s traded. That contract and the fact Seattle didn’t have a top third-base prospect in waiting has resulted in Seager being the last remaining veteran still on board, but the Mariners do have a viable option now after acquiring France from the Padres at the Trade Deadline.

Shortstop (1): J.P. Crawford
The 25-year-old filled Seattle’s leadoff role and won his first Gold Glove Award in his first full season in the Majors, and he will look to build on that as an emerging figure in the Mariners’ rebuilding plans.

Outfield (4): Mitch Haniger, Kyle Lewis, José Marmolejos, Jake Fraley
Haniger’s health situation will need to be clarified, but the Mariners expect their 2018 All-Star to be full go for the first time since June 2019. If so, he’s the starting right fielder, with Lewis again patrolling center after his outstanding rookie campaign. Left field figures to be the biggest position question on the club. Moore is the obvious answer if he’s not at second base, otherwise it could go to Fraley or Braden Bishop, or revolve again around utility players like Tim Lopes and Sam Haggerty, as well as Marmolejos. But all that uncertainty should be solved relatively quickly, once No. 1 prospect Jarred Kelenic is deemed ready to be promoted from Triple-A Tacoma.

Designated hitter (1): Ty France
As long as Seager sticks around, France figures to get the majority of his playing time at DH as the Mariners want his potent right-handed bat in the lineup. The 26-year-old will also get occasional starts at third, second and first base, allowing manager Scott Servais to rotate other players into the DH spot as well.

Utility (2): Sam Haggerty and Tim Lopes
Both Haggerty and Lopes showed in 2020 that they’re capable of providing solid defense as well as some offensive punch and speed at any position, including in the outfield.

Starting pitchers (6): Marco Gonzales, Justus Sheffield, Yusei Kikuchi, Justin Dunn, Nick Margevicius, free-agent signee
Gonzales, Sheffield and Kikuchi are sure things for the rotation, while Dunn and Margevicius also pitched well enough in 2020 to compete for roles again. The Mariners would like to stick with the six-man rotation that worked well last season, which means likely adding an experienced free agent. If the price is right, that could mean a reunion with Taijuan Walker or J.A. Happ, or a shot at someone like Garrett Richards or Anthony DeSclafani. And waiting in the wings is top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert, who is the closest of a group of promising youngsters coming up through the ranks.

Relievers (7): Kendall Graveman, Joey Gerber, Anthony Misiewicz, Brandon Brennan, three free-agent signees
This is always the toughest group to project and that is even more true this offseason, given Dipoto wants to add three or four experienced hurlers from a large and interesting crop of free agents. Casey Sadler, Erik Swanson and recent waiver claim Domingo Tapia certainly will be in the mix along with some up-and-coming prospects. But the real intrigue will be which free agents land in Seattle.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.